A poem in three parts: Shaharit, The Foreigner, Song
Originally published in Hebrew by Tag/Hameuchad, 1999
(translated from Hebrew by Helena Berg)
This poem will
a poem of another century, not different from this one.
This poem will be securely concealed under heaps of words, until
grains of the hourglass,
like a ship inside a bottle, it will be seen, this poem:
the poem that
speak of innocence. And common people that ostensibly
were shaped by time, like tardy gods,
will listen to
for no reason that wasn’t there before,
rise their backs like snakes
and there won’t be anywhere else
to hurry from, and it won’t have an end
beginning. It won’t be rich
and won’t be poor. It won’t bother anymore to promise
and keep or
out its utterances
and won’t scrimp, or sail there from here.
This poem, if
speak to you, woman, it won’t call you
muse-babe, and won’t lie with you like its fathers;
or if to you,
it won’t kneel or kill, won’t apply makeup
and won’t take off its words and flesh, as it has not has not --
now I’ll call it here, the bad poem
of the century: here, sick with health it barely walks
drags its legs
the viscous current of thoughts of the time
or is stopped to show papers and to have its trivia counted
beads. The inventory: flowers and staples,
corpses (yes, no worry), tall glasses. After staples --
and many footprints and other hooks and
for the arguments of scholarly criticism, and also just to fool around, teeth
the anarchic smiles of a chameleon that
its colours have long since turned into a parable. Or in incomprehensible tranquillity
to try someone
luck in games of
to and fro that have no goal other than, let’s say,
a bit of fun
of a line. Spread orange on the blue
of evening sky: now, plaster a little cloud. Climb
on it, see
sea of sea, sand of sand.
Or fingers. Ten jointed worms
charm. Now they encircle
a ball whose circle is faulty, wonderful, fleshy, further more,
you may say a
(it’s a fruit, it’s called
a peach). And these words their taste is full of the taste of
its being, of a
that accompanies the sight with wonder
and not with a thought-slamming sound. And this is the poem:
it sings, let’s
to the tar that stuck to the foot on the shore,
to plastic bottles, to its own words. It
white, transparent, or grainy.
It is not less naked than you. Also no more. Only in this exactness
that has no
but by the curves of a female-dog,
a pot of cyclamens, or a hair strand on a bathtub railing.
don’t want to know. The creatures
there, that only want, are, for now, a possibility
of becoming the
that are here, of becoming this antiquity
that has nothing to say other than me, me, without limit
A dog lies on a step in the afternoon
sun, and does not distinguish itself from the flies.
The Barbarians (Round Two)
Translated by Vivian Eden
It was not in vain that we awaited the barbarians,
it was not in vain that we gathered in the city square.
It was not in vain that our great ones donned their official robes
and rehearsed their speeches for the event.
It was not in vain that we smashed our temples
and erected new ones to their gods;
as proper we burnt our books
that have nothing in them for people like that.
As the prophesy foretold the barbarians came,
and took the keys to the city from the king’s hand.
But when they came they donned the garments of the land,
and their customs were the customs of the state;
and when they commanded us in our own tongue
we no longer knew when
the barbarians had come to us.
Translated by Vivian Eden
He skipped all the way to the park in the drizzle.
He plucked a large leaf and wore it on his head.
Then he got rid of his shirt.
Then his shoes.
Beside the lake he stopped and stared at the water.
He rooted his toes in the black mud and swayed in the wind.
He was fired and free.
There isn’t, wasn’t, won’t be.
Clouds and more clouds.
A curious duck probes between his toes, a lightning hand,
he pressed and pressed. Now with both hands.
He twisted its neck around
like they used to do at secret parties
among the chicken coops at the kibbutz.
The duck ran, maybe ten yards
without its head
and collapsed on the water
The face of the waters exploded and turned blue.
He stood there, like a gutter
and urinated at length.
He had no shirt.
He was cold.
The perfect murder has no reasons, he said,
the perfect murder needs only a perfect object,
as it was in Auschwitz.
Not the crematoria, of course, but as it was
afrerwards, outside working hours.
And he fell silent
looking at the froth on the beer
and taking a sip.
The perfect murder is love, he said.
The perfect murder doesn’t require anything perfect
as much as you can.
Even the memory of gripping the throat
is eternal. Even the howls that rocked my hand,
even the piss that fell like grace on cold flesh,
even the hill that awakens another eternity,
even the silence, he said,
looking at the froth.
True, a decent job
frees a lot, but
a perfect murder doesn’t lose
like the lips of a child, he explained,
like sand and froth,
sipping and listening.
Translated by Vivian Eden
O walker, leave the path a while,
sit among the berry trees and vines,
water and trees and stone so white.
Here I, a boy and king, do lie.
My face cold marble, my hands, my feet.
I am dressed in ferns and fallen leaves.
I too never went far afield
I too once lived and breathed.
O walker, leave the path a space,
crush wild berries on my face.
Translated by Irit Sela
I look through the monkeys’ eyes,
as they play with my skull in the treetops.
I’m lifted with the eagle as he flies
because my entrails are in his;
in the belly of the earth
I crawl with worms
who ate my eyes out of my sockets;
I am green, I grow in the grass
That my rotting flesh makes rich.
O my body
How you have grown!